As I sit here on the “Love Boat” holding Sandy’s hand on my last day of chemo, I am overwhelmed with gratitude and compassion. Everyone here is hurting or dying and most are scared to death. To be in a position to reach out, to be an example of the positive, to touch them, to listen to their stories is a gift that has to be experienced. Since we are in the same “boat” approaching them is easy. I give them each a card with the magic words and they light up. It’s a feeling of a joyful planting, knowing that only good can come from a positive act, no matter how small.
It has taken twenty years to get here. From the absolute nadir of despair to a life of happy, joyous freedom at first has to take a lot of effort. The habit of a lifetime took some doing to turn to a different direction. Automatic negative thinking and a curious twist of the mind made being useful in any way almost impossible. Everything seemed to be screwed and I thought I liked it like that. I didn’t realize that just because my reaction was automatic doesn’t mean it wasn’t a decision. I thought I was a victim of my circumstances; I didn’t know that I had a choice. Being a victim keeps me from a life of true freedom; it prevented me from experiencing the wondrous rewards of performing a simple act of kindness. To see people light up, to respond, and to see that spread across the room fills my heart with joy.
How long was I asleep? I didn’t know I was asleep until I woke up. Only then was it possible to realize the fact of my previous unconsciousness. Now that I am aware of my judgment, I have a choice. I stand at the crossroads with the knowledge that my choices can lead me to true freedom. I am free to choose any way I want only now I am asked to report the results. Sometimes I still choose the dark and the result is always the same; it tastes awful, it’s physically painful and it makes me feel sick. There is nothing of value in it yet I pursue it as if it was a treasure. The only thing of real value is the spiritual principles (the magic words on the card): Acceptance, open-mindedness,
willingness, honesty, love, forgiveness, harmony, truth, faith, hope, light,and joy.
So here’s to all you passengers on the “Love Boat” and to the wonderful nurses who bring compassionate, loving care to each and every one of us, I hope we were able to enrich your lives as much as you enriched ours.
God bless you all—no exceptions!